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New York City Ballet: "Glass Pieces", "Opus 19/The Dreamer", "The Concert"

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Glass Pieces
Opus 19/The Dreamer
The Concert

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master, Dena Abergel
Orchestra, Interim Music Director, Andrews Sill
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 17, 2014

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Clotilde Otranto

Glass Pieces (1983): Music by Philip Glass, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Production Design by Jerome Robbins and Ronald Bates, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Performed by Ashley Laracey, Daniel Applebaum, Megan Mann, Joseph Gordon, Emily Gerrity, Andrew Scordato, Wendy Whelan, Adrian Danchig-Waring, and the Company.

Glass Pieces, with Philip Glass’ “Glassworks” repetitive score, always plays in my mind for days. As anticipated, it was hypnotic and engrossing. Rubric, with a tiny-squared beige backdrop, brings out the Corps in ever-rushing fast walks, stretches, and turns, while one of three ballet couples at a time, in pastel unitards, stops the ensemble in its tracks, to partner in duo elegance. Tonight’s three duos were Ashley Laracey and Daniel Applebaum, Meagan Mann and Joseph Gordon, and Emilie Gerrity and Andrew Scordato. Of these three couples, the most riveting was Ashley Laracey, with stunning demeanor and serenity, and Daniel Applebaum, with enthralling focus. I am continually struck by the silhouetted female corps, holding hands, walking like moving keys on the piano.

Facades has the female corps walking sideways like Egyptian sculptures in black silhouette against a lit backdrop. Wendy Whelan and Adrian Danchig-Waring, in their pas de deux, were intense in bent arm-leg extensions, like crawling crustaceans. They glowed with fascination, against the small, slow motion silhouettes. Akhnaten, the third movement, features pulsating percussion, with the male Corps bonding in primal hunched positions. Soon circling females appear, followed by the full Corps in ever-shifting ensembles. Glass Pieces ends in a flash.

Opus 19/The Dreamer (1979): Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Costumes by Ben Benson, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Violin Solo: Kurt Nikkanen, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Gonzalo Garcia, and the Company.

Every time I see this work, it grabs the imagination in its searing, fierce musicality, thanks to Prokofiev’s “1st Violin Concerto”. With Kurt Nikkanen at the bow and Maestro Otranto on the podium, Sterling Hyltin and Gonzalo Garcia catapulted in dizzying spins with sharp-angled arms. This All-Robbins program was all the more powerful and momentous with Ms. Hyltin and Mr. Garcia’s theatrical interpretation. Mr. Garcia was confident and balanced, with depth and drama, a virtuoso in development. Ms. Hyltin showed tremendous maturity with serenity and sensuality. When she and Mr. Garcia bent and tipped toward each other, they were entrancing.

Ben Benson’s purple costume for Ms. Hyltin and Ronald Bates’ stage lighting created a mesmerizing, mystical haze that enhanced the dancers. The ensemble of twelve was like a dreamy Greek chorus. David Prottas, Gretchen Smith, and Faye Arthurs caught my eye. Mr. Nikkanen added musical imagery of longing and loneliness to the atonal violin solos. The music’s sweep was mournful and surreal, enveloping and nurturing the listener, while Mr. Garcia’s legs spun in rhythm with the violin.

The Concert [Or the Perils of Everybody] A Charade in One Act (1956): Music by Frédéric Chopin, Choreography by Jerome Robbins, Décor by Saul Steinberg, Costumes by Irene Sharaff, Lighting by Ronald Bates, Pianist: Elaine Chelton, Performed by Sterling Hyltin, Joaquin De Luz, Lydia Wellington, Lars Nelson, Allen Peiffer, Troy Schumacher, Andrew Scordato, Sara Adams, Marika Anderson, Kristen Segin, and the Company.

And, tonight a star was born. Who knew Elaine Chelton, solo pianist with City Ballet, had such vaudevillian mime talent. As the comical stage pianist, who dusts the keys with a handkerchief and chases human butterflies, she was the female version of Buster Keaton, or a Lucille Ball in progress. The audience was vocally entertained and enthused with this surprise in tonight’s casting. This is surely one of Robbins’ wittiest works, and its simplicity is its success. Sterling Hyltin, amazingly fresh from the previous abstract work, was a flirtatious girl, prancing in a hat. Joaquin De Luz was the philandering husband with a cigar. Lydia Wellington was the jealous wife with a temper. And so on.

Dancers go to sit down where chairs disappeared, a concert audience draws umbrellas and sprouts butterfly wings. Robbins was aware that Chopin’s music would inspire daydreams, and thus characters argue, kiss, chase, and leap about in utter abandon. Yet, the antics are never silly or senseless. Rather there’s always a persuasive human quality, as we see ourselves in our own daydreaming imagery. Kudos to Elaine Chelton for music and wit. And, kudos to Jerome Robbins for tonight’s three ballets.

Sterling Hyltin and Company
in Jerome Robbins' "The Concert"
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at